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The Courage And Inspiration To Discover Your Calling And Pursue Your Dream

By Tom Venuto author of Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle

“Why do you do it, Tom?”

Why do you eat every three hours, weighing and measuring all your food, nitpicking every ounce and gram and calorie?

Why do you "deprive" yourself for months on end of delicious pleasures like ice cream, pizza and pastries?

Why do you get up out of a warm, cozy bed at 6 in the morning to do cardio and then later in the day you’re back in the gym again lifting weights?

Why do you put your social life and other activities on hold and do nothing but eat, sleep, breathe and live bodybuilding for 3 months before the big competitions?

Why do you train into “the burn,” beyond fatigue, pushing yourself to the outer limits of your strength and endurance, intentionally putting yourself into the pain zone?

Why do you make all the sacrifices?

What motivates you to keep doing it?

I am asked these and similar questions more often than you can imagine, both in formal interviews as well as in casual conversations with friends, clients, business colleagues, even total strangers.

My answer is simple:

“This is what I was put here to do... and I love it!”

Why do Olympians train full time for 4 or 8 or even 12 years to put it all on the line for one competition?

Why does a priest take up his ministry?

Why do writers write?

Why do singers sing?

Why does anyone follow any path in life?

Here is the only way I can possibly describe it:

It’s their calling…. It’s what they were put here to do.

I didn’t pursue my path because I excelled at it first and then decided to continue pursuing it. I knew bodybuilding and fitness was “it” before I even began. It was a feeling from within.

From the very first time I saw a photograph of Arnold Schwarzenneger, when I was 14, I just knew… because it fascinated me, it interested me, excited me, intrigued me, inspired me.

As Dr Wayne Dyer writes in his new book, “Inspiration, Your Ultimate Calling:”

“Anything that excites us is a clue that we have the ability to pursue it. Anything that truly intrigues us is evidence of a divine (albeit latent) talent that’s signaling our awareness. Having an interest in something is the clue to a thought that’s connected to our calling. Anything that is causing excitement within us is evidence of a spiritual message that’s saying, ‘You can do this, yes you can.’”

But let’s suppose you do “hear the call,” … why put yourself through the pain and sacrifices necessary to pursue a difficult and disciplined path?

The answer is simple…

The rewards of the disciplined path are greater than the sacrifices you make to pursue it. The more difficult and disciplined the path, the greater the rewards.

And perhaps even more significant, the pain of not pursuing the path you were destined to pursue is far greater than the pain of the sacrifices you make to pursue it.

If is nothing is ventured, nothing can be gained... No rewards. No satisfaction. You merely exist… and you exist with a feeling of emptiness and unfulfillment as your constant companion.

We are not here to merely exist. We are here to live, to grow and to express our potential.

Surely you’ve heard the maxim that we use only 10% of our potential or less. Well, doesn’t the idea of discovering and realizing at least some of your ultimate potential get you inspired and excited?

Bodybuilding to me is so much more than just training, competing, enjoying a highly developed body, and winning titles and awards. That’s only the most superficial aspect of it.

Bodybuilding to me is goes much deeper: It is a chosen and enjoyed life-style as well as a career. It’s a path to follow not a destination to be reached. It is a road to total self development, not just physical self development. It is an opportunity to explore potential, express talents, utilize abilities, and work towards a state Abraham Maslow called self-actualization.

It’s all about the type of person you become in pursuit of your goal, not the achievement of the goal itself. As such, you could say a path like this is both mental and spiritual in nature, even though it appears that nothing could possibly be more physical.

What’s especially interesting is that when you are on the right path, you don’t need to “get motivated,” you simply feel inspired from within.

Some people may not have recognized their calling yet, but it’s already inside of each and every one of us, it’s simply a matter of connecting or tuning in to it. It’s like the station has been continuously broadcasting a message inside you all your life, and you simply have to turn the tuner to the right position on the dial and then listen.

When you listen to that inner voice, you feel contentment, satisfaction, alignment, and congruency, a feeling of being “on purpose” and “on the right track.”

If you’ve tuned in and you hear that voice speaking to you, but you ignore it, there are consequences.

Over the years, many people have “volunteered their opinion” about my choice of career path and pursuit of bodybuilding.

They told me there was no future in bodybuilding.

They said there was no money in bodybuilding.

They said I should focus on my business and my career rather than waste time chasing after dreams of trophies and titles

They said life is too short to spend all your time in the gym.

They said bodybuilding was superficial and narcissistic.

They said bodybuilding was full of druggies, weirdos, egomaniacs and worse.

They told me I couldn’t make it without steroids.

They said I didn’t have the genetics.

They said it wasn’t even a real sport!

They laughed, they ridiculed, they disapproved. (Some of them still do).

Thankfully, for most of my life, I ignored “them.”

But on the rare occasions I let “them” influence me, I was always miserable - there were very intense feelings of discomfort, disappointment and discontentment. I knew I was off the track.

Rollo May, in his book, The Courage To Create, said that the opposite of courage is not cowardice. The opposite of courage is conformity.

When you have the courage to resist the pressure to conform to what other people want for you in order to pursue your own calling, don’t be surprised to see the disapproval of others eventually turn into respect.

As strategic coach Dan Sullivan says, it's better to be exceptional than to be acceptable... better to stand out than to fit in... better to be productive than to be popular.

We are all faced with these questions:

Do we pursue what we came here to do, or do we ignore our calling and listen to what others want for us?

The answer we must arrive at eventually is that even though we may disappoint others because we choose to pursue our own dreams, we MUST have the courage to pursue them anyway, or we will be sentenced to uninspired lives of quiet desperation.

Dr. Wayne Dyer gives some great advice about this. He says,

“Don’t die wondering. This is extremely important in working towards an inspired life because it motivates us to act – after all, we don’t want to be full of regrets because we failed to heed our ultimate calling. We don’t tend to regret what we do, we regret what we didn’t do.”

The idea of “dying with my music still in me” does it for me every time. Picturing myself in the last days of my life, looking back and wondering what I could have become, if only I had made the attempt, is simply too painful to bear…. And the mere thought of it keeps me going and growing.

So many people today are filled with a feeling of emptiness, a feeling that there must be something more. I believe that this is our calling, speaking to us, longing to be heard, acted upon and expressed.

Listen to it, and have the courage to pursue it.

Train hard and expect success
Your friend and coach,

Tom Venuto

Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle

Tom Venuto is a lifetime natural bodybuilder, personal trainer, gym owner, freelance writer, and author of “Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle”: Fat Burning Secrets of the World’s Best Bodybuilders and Fitness Models. Click here to visit Tom's Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle website.